Jack Cardwell embodies the kind of strong humility that most philosophers and religious figures just talk about. After building Petro Stopping Centers from a single service station to a chain of sixty-seven multi-service truck stops, he still can say, without a trace of irony or even self-depreciation, “I’ve got diesel in my veins. Not interested in publicity.”
Jack came to El Paso in 1952, courtesy of the United States Army. He said his first impression driving in was to ask God what he did wrong to deserve being sent to such an isolated place. Then he met his future wife, Evonne Emmett, during his training. In 2013, they celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Having decided to live in El Paso rather than return to his family’s farm in Missouri, Jack went to work at a local gas station. He eventually bought it. From there, he expanded his business operations into thirty-four states with over 6,500 employees. In 2007, he sold his company, to enjoy more time with his family.
God first, followed by family, then work: the priorities and order of Jack’s life. He feels that, as a resident of a community, you are responsible to give back to that community in time and/or financial resources. Jack and Evonne have done both. Supporting local organizations has been their lifelong commitment. Today, they are proud to call El Paso home and firmly believe in the city’s future. Says son Jim, “Now you cannot get him to leave El Paso.”
Tom Lea Institute board member Tania Schwartz adds, “Jack Cardwell is a man of loyalty, faith, and patriotism, and our border is a better place, thanks to his and Evonne’s contributions.”